She was dead and pickled, and about as pretty as you would expect a dead, mushy, and beige cephalopod to be, but still, she was really something.
Wellington's Te Papa Museum holds the only colossal squid specimen in all the world. Some New Zealand fishermen pulled her up from the deep off the coast of Antarctica in 2007. They were...pretty surprised. She was still alive, all bright-red caped and churning, feeding on the toothfish they had hooked, but these krakens can't survive in surface waters, their blood can't carry oxygen well up top, and they suffocate. She was fading. They hauled her in, put her on ice, and donated her to the museum. Eventually biologists found a creative way to thaw her (deciding that slow saltwater baths were better than big microwaves)...whence they had a few precious hours to do some poking and prodding before pumping her up with preservatives and transferring all nearly-1100 pounds of her into a watery, space-age, transparent coffin. Which is where I bumped into her...
Co-los-sal: 1. extremely large. 2. of an exceptional or astonishing degree.
I figure that you'll want some Colossal Squid Trivia now, because, well, who wouldn't?
They are big. Really big. Biggest invertebrate in the world. This is based on the handful of immature specimens that have ever seen the light of day. The Te Papa squid is little, only about 14 feet after shrinkage. Current estimates of the big dogs puts them at 35-45 feet long.
The Squid and the Whale
They are badass predators, decked out with crazy rotating-hooked tentacles that could make a medieval weapons expert weep. And mess you up. Bad. They are the only animal in the world that has a shot at fighting a sperm whale (the world's largest predator, you know.) Even though the whales usually win (their stomachs jangle with many a hard squid beak), a big squid can leave them all cut and scarred.
Eyes of the World
They have the biggest eyes in the world. A foot or more in diameter. Looking at you. They also have eight arms. Two tentacles. One scary, black, parrot beak. And a lot of style.